Have you read the lesson this week from the 16th chapter of Luke? After reading it several times, it made me wonder if the hearer was really not paying close attention when they wrote down their notes. Maybe they got a little distracted while listening to the sermon and by the time they started paying attention again, they did the best they could with what they thought they heard. Or perhaps it is like having a conversation involving several people and each walks away with a different understanding of what was said. Those were my first thoughts when I read this lesson; someone wasn’t paying attention or put their own spin or interpretation on it.
It seems crazy and convoluted that Jesus would relay a story about a dishonest manager being fired from his job who then turns around and is considered to be acting even more shrewdly by reducing the amount that all the debtors owed to the manager. When the manager said he acted shrewdly, was he implying this was a good thing? Let’s face it, the employee already knew his prospects of getting another job were slim and the parable tells us he was too ashamed to beg. Maybe by reducing the amount each debtor owes to the manager, he thought the debtors might feel indebted to him and this would secure his future. And that is exactly what the manager recognized in his employee…he was willing to do anything to protect himself and his livelihood. He went ahead with his scheme to make friends and ensure he would be taken care of after his dismissal and he trusted that his boss would be merciful and not send him to jail.
So was the point about relationships? While relationships are important (think PoWeR SuRGe), I don’t think Jesus is saying we should buy or cheat our way into our relationships. Even when we make mistakes in our relationship with others, as people of faith, we know that we must rely on God’s mercy. We also know that we will always fall short of God’s hope for use. We could never qualify on our own for the promises we receive from God. We must first receive God’s mercy if we are to give up self-destructive, harmful thoughts and behaviors.
Perhaps Jesus told the parable to provoke his followers into being as concerned about their future with God as the dishonest manager was about his future after getting fired. Jesus wanted his followers to be as creative (shrewd) in finding ways to be faithful to God as the manager was in ensuring he would have food and shelter. God wants us to know that in spite of our unworthiness he still trusts us to be good stewards of the gifts he has placed in our care.
- What do you think the point is of the story Jesus tells?
- What do you think of the way the manager acted in order to protect himself? Can you draw some parallels to event happening in our world today?
- What are some “shrewd and clever” ways you could think of that would us to be better stewards of all that God has given us?
- How do you prioritize your life to be a good steward of the gifts God has given you? Where is God on your list of priorities?